What To Expect of Your Erections As You Age…20’s, 30’s, 40’s and Beyond


Andrew Siegel MD Blog # 167


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It is shocking how ill prepared we are for aging. Nobody informs us exactly what to expect with the process, so we just sit back and observe the changes as they unfold, dealing with them as best we can. Although educational books are available on many topics regarding other expected experiences, such as “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” I have yet to see “The Manual of Man,” explaining the changes we might expect to experience as time goes on. Some day I wish to author a book like that, but for the time being I will blog on what to anticipate with male sexual function as time relentlessly marches on.

 “But the wheel of time turns, inexorably. True rigidity becomes a distant memory; the refractory period of sexual indifference after climax increases; the days of coming are going. Sexually speaking, men drop out by the wayside. By 65, half of all men are, to use a sporting metaphor, out of the game; as are virtually all ten years later, without resort to chemical kick-starting.”

Tom Hickman God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis

Aging can be unkind and Father Time does not spare your sexual function. Although erectile dysfunction (ED) is not inevitable, with each passing decade, there is an increasing prevalence of it. Present in some form in 40% of men by age 40 years, for each decade thereafter an additional 10% join the ED club. All aspects of sexuality decline, although libido (sexual interest and drive) suffers the least depreciation, leading to a swarm of men with eager “big heads” and apathetic “little heads,” a most frustrating combination indeed. With aging often comes less sexual activity, and with less sexual activity often comes disuse atrophy, in which the penis actually becomes smaller.

Additionally, with aging there is often weight gain, and with weight gain comes a generous fat distribution in the pubic area, which will make the penis appear shorter. With aging also comes scrotal laxity and testicles that hang down loosely, like the pendulous breasts of an older woman. Many of my older patients relate that when they sit on the toilet, their scrotum touches the toilet water. So, the penis shrinks and the testicles hang low like those of an old hound dog…Time and gravity can be cruel conspirators!

So, what can you expect of your sexual function as you age? I have broken this down by decade with the understanding that these are general trends and that you as an individual may well vary quite a bit from others in your age group, depending upon your genetics, lifestyle, luck and other factors. There are 30- year old men who have sexual issues and 80-year old men who are veritable “studs,” so age per se is not the ultimate factor.

You may wonder about the means by which I was able to craft this guide. I was able to do so through more than 25 years spent deep in the urology trenches, working the front line with thousands of patient interactions. My patients have been among my most important teachers and have given me a wealth of information that is not to be found in medical textbooks or journals, nor taught in medical school or during urology residency. Furthermore, I am a 50-something year-old man, keenly observant of the subtle changes that I have personally witnessed, but must report that I am still holding my own!

Age 18-30: Your sexual appetite is prodigious and sex often occupies the front burners of your mind. It requires very little stimulation to achieve an erection—even the wind blowing the right way might just be enough to stimulate a rigid, gravity-defying erection, pointing proudly at the heavens. The sight of an attractive woman, the smell of her perfume, merely the thought of her can arouse you fully. You get erections even when you don’t want them…if there was only a way to bank these for later in life! You wake up in the middle of the night sporting a rigid erection. When you climax, the orgasm is intense and you are capable of ejaculating an impressive volume of semen forcefully with an arc-like trajectory, a virtual comet shooting across the horizon. When you arise in the morning from sleep, it is not just you that has arisen, but also your penis that has become erect in reflex response to your full bladder, which can make emptying your bladder quite the challenge, with the penis pointing up when you want to direct its aim down towards the toilet bowl. It doesn’t get better than this…you are an invincible king… a professional athlete at the peak of his career! All right, maybe not invincible…you do have an Achilles heel…you may sometimes ejaculate prematurely because you are so hyper-excitable and sometimes in a new sexual situation you have performance anxiety, a mechanical failure brought on by the formidable mind-body correction, your all-powerful mind dooming the capabilities of your perfectly normal genital plumbing.

Age 30-40: Things start to change ever so slowly, perhaps even so gradually that you barely even notice them. Your sex drive remains vigorous, but it is not quite as obsessive and all consuming as it once was. You can still get quality erections, but they may not occur as spontaneously, as frequently and with such little provocation as they did in the past. You may require some touch stimulation to develop full rigidity. You still wake up in the middle of the night with an erection and experience “morning wood.” Ejaculations and orgasms are hardy, but you may notice some subtle differences, with your “rifle” being a little less powerful and of smaller caliber. The time it takes to achieve another erection after ejaculating increases. You are that athlete in the twilight of his career, seasoned and experienced, and the premature ejaculation of yonder years is much less frequent an occurrence.

Age 40-50: After age 40, changes become more obvious. You are still interested in sex, but not nearly with the passion you had two decades earlier. You can usually get a pretty good quality erection, but it now often requires tactile stimulation and the rock-star rigidity of years gone by gives way to a nicely firm penis, still suitable for penetration. The gravity-defying erections don’t have quite the angle they used to. At times you may lose the erection before the sexual act is completed. You notice that orgasms have lost some of their kick and ejaculation has become a bit feebler than previous. Getting a second erection after climax is not only difficult, but also may be something that you no longer have any interest in pursuing. All in all though, you still have some game left.

Age 50-60: Sex is still important to you and your desire is still there, but is typically diminished. Your erection can still be respectable and functional, but is not the majestic sight to behold that it once was, and touch is necessary for full arousal. Nighttime and morning erections become few and far between. The frequency of intercourse declines while the frequency of prematurely losing the erection before the sexual act is complete increases. Your orgasms are definitely different with less intensity of your climax, and at times, it feels like nothing much happened—more “firecracker” than “fireworks.” Ejaculation has become noticeably different—the volume of semen is diminished and you question why you are “drying up.” At ejaculation, the semen seems to dribble with less force and trajectory; your “high-caliber rifle” is now a “blunt-nosed handgun.” Getting a second erection after climax is difficult, and you have much more interest in going to sleep rather than pursuing a sexual encore. Sex is no longer a sport, but a recreational activity…sometimes just reserved for the weekends.

Age 60-70: “Sexagenarian” is bit of a misleading word…this is more apt a term for the 18-30 year-old group, because your sex life doesn’t compare to theirs…they are the athletes and you the spectators. Your testosterone level has plummeted over the decades, probably accounting for your diminished desire. Erections are still obtainable with some coaxing and coercion, but they are not five star erections, more like three stars, suitable for penetration, but not the flagpole of yonder years. They are less reliable, and at times your penis suffers with attention deficit disorder, unable to focus and losing its mojo prematurely, unable to complete the task at hand. Spontaneous erections, nighttime, and early morning erections become rare occurrences. Climax is, well, not so climactic and explosive ejaculations are a matter of history. At times, you think you climaxed, but are unsure because the sensation was so un-sensational. Ejaculation may consist of a few drops of semen dribbling out of the end of the penis. Your “rifle” has now become a child’s plastic “water pistol.” Seconds?…thank you no …that is reserved for helpings on the dinner table! Sex is no longer a recreational activity, but an occasional amusement.

Age 70-80: When asked about his sexual function, my 70-something-year-old patient replied: “Retired…and I’m really upset that I’m not even upset.” You may still have some remaining sexual desire left in you, but it’s a far cry from the fire in your groin you had when you were a younger man. With physical coaxing, your penis can at times be prodded to rise to the occasion, like a cobra responding to the beck and call of the flute of the snake charmer. The quality of your erections has noticeably dropped, with penile fullness without that rigidity that used to make penetration such a breeze. At times, the best that you can do is to obtain a partially inflated erection that cannot penetrate, despite pushing, shoving and manipulating every which way. Spontaneous erections have gone the way of the 8-track player. Thank goodness for your discovery that even a limp penis can be stimulated to orgasm, so it is still possible for you to experience sexual intimacy and climax, although the cli-“max” is more like a cli-“min.” That child’s “water pistol”…it’s barely got any water left in the chamber.

Age 80-90: You are now a member of a group that has an ever-increasing constituency—the ED club. Although you as an octogenarian may still be able to have sex, most of your brethren cannot; however, they remain appreciative that at least they still have their penises to use as spigots, allowing them to stand to urinate, a distinct competitive advantage over the womenfolk. (But even this plus is often compromised by the aging prostate gland, wrapped around the urinary channel like a boa constrictor, making urination a challenging chore.) Compounding the problem is that your spouse is no longer a spring chicken. Because she been post-menopausal for many years, she has a significantly reduced sex drive and vaginal dryness, making sex downright difficult, if not impossible. If you are able to have sex on your birthday and anniversary, you are doing much better than most. To quote one of my octogenarian patients in reference to his penis: “It’s like walking around with a dead fish.”

Age 90-100: To quote the comedian George Burns: “Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.” You are grateful to be alive and in the grand scheme of things, sex is low on the list of priorities. You can live vicariously through pleasant memories of your days of glory that are lodged deep in the recesses of your mind, as long as your memory holds out! Penis magic has gone the way of defeated phallus syndrome. So, when and if you get an erection, you never want to waste it!

Stay tuned for my next blog, coming next week: The solution to age-related decline in sexual function: 10 Things You Can Do To Prevent a Limp Penis

Wishing you the best of health and erections that last a lifetime,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

      Andrew Siegel, M.D.


A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: http://www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; available in e-book (Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo) and paperback: http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Private Gym website for pelvic floor instructional DVD and resistance training equipment: http://www.PrivateGym.com

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26 Responses to “What To Expect of Your Erections As You Age…20’s, 30’s, 40’s and Beyond”

  1. Gary Says:

    “Climax is, well, not so climactic and explosive ejaculations are a matter of history.” I’m 62 and nothing could be further from the truth. According to your article, I guess I’m far more lucky than I realized. My climaxes are as explosive as ever, and I average about one a day, though sometimes I enjoy 3 or more in a day for fun (could do 10 if I wanted). Spontaneous erections every hour or two, fantasize all the time. I suppose excellent health helps, running marathons, etc.

    And if I’ve skipped a day, the 2nd climax an hour or two later is usually even more explosive.

    I suppose the lesson is that people vary a lot, and general descriptions like yours doesn’t apply to everyone. They’re just sort of an “average”.

    • Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

      Consider yourself fortunate! Your well-preserved function is testimony to your excellent physical shape and cardiovascular conditioning, unlike the average American.

    • Danny Says:

      Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts.❤️ Sometimes, the blood supply to the penis is not so good which may cause lose erection. So happy 😊 I googled “Nizag4ed” and got some magic help to stay hard. The nerve supply and musculature supplying the penis have to be sufficient in order to maintain erection and prevent premature ejaculation.

  2. peter Ladd Says:

    I am 82 and can still get a semi erect penis. I general masturbate and climax every day.

  3. David Says:

    Very informative. I’m a married 36yo man. Last 3 weeks have been exhausting as I cannot go to full salute for the MRS. And being the wife that she is she will do anything to get it to salute. Even then it feels fluffy. Just weeks ago it was always rock hard and always had full salute morning wood. I am puzzled

  4. Brian stockman Says:

    Hi my name is Brian stockman I am 39 and I get weak erections I am using trimix it works good any body use this is it normal to have problems at my age

    • Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

      It is not uncommon to start experiencing problem achieving and maintaining erections around age 40. There are many potential physical and psychological factors that contribute to the problem. It is sound advice to start with the simple fixes and proceed accordingly. Healthy lifestyle is the starting point including “fighting” weight, healthy eating, regular exercise, pelvic floor muscle exercises, adequate sleep, stress reduction, avoiding tobacco, alcohol in moderation, etc. Less invasive treatments than penile injections include vibration therapy, oral medications. vacuum suction device and urethral suppositories.

  5. John Stryker Says:

    Excellent article. A job well done!

  6. Liladhar Says:

    I am 65 years. I am unable to have intercourse (since last few years) with my wife due to lack of terrection when wife is ready for sex. But I get very hard night errections and morning woods every day. It lasts for an hour or two. Almost 5 days in a week I masterbate and ejaculate. What should I do to get quality errection when wife is ready for sex.

    • Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

      Does not sound like a physical problem, but more of a psychological/emotional issue, since erections are satisfactory on many occasions. I recommend seeing a urologist for starters, but a psychologist/sexual counselor would seem to be of great benefit as well.

  7. China’s Laowai, their sexual fantasies, and The Exact Unknown | iLook China Says:

    […] addition, HealthDoc13.com reports that from age 18 to 30 “Your sexual appetite is prodigious (huge, enormous) and sex often […]

  8. Kris Says:

    My husband is 69 & I am 51. We usually enjoy love making most mornings. This was interesting to read.

  9. 80sKid Says:

    Suicide Prevention for Men should be the name of your book…. ED issues are that devistating to many men folk and leave them scrambling to compete with present day younger men who seek to …….”fill the gap”of a booming population of lonely e.d. afflicted housewives. Even having cute titles for them such as “milf”, “cougars”, and even worse titles applied by a crude generation of x-box brats.
    The fear of being “kicked while you are down” is not even a funny possibility or option to be “weighing” on the many men such as myself and others in our late 40s struggling to keep off pounds and simply keep a job for supporting the home as we were taught (bitd) back in the day…
    Four men within a halfmile radius of my home inwhich I grew up in semi-rural SE TN have committed suicide for largely unspoken reasons in a short window of time.
    My wife of 18 1/2 years is dearly wonderful to me in (all) aspects and needs a crown of priceless jewels for that in itself.
    But ; that said, I found your article while looking for answers as to WHAT THE HEDOUBLEHOCKEYSTICKS is going on with my “little buddy” ????!!##
    Your article just lifted the whole weight of the world from my shoulders . I do considerably well in the bedroom or squeak by if you subtract my 1980s ego ….lol.
    ……but : I mesh into much of your writings ,THANKGOD and finally some who speaks from realworld terms !!!!
    When I have more time, I would like to clear up for you my shocking intro I led out at the top of my rant , but gotta go for now. I will tie it all in for you and others out there in which relations are tortured by the unknown now days.

  10. truthseeker Says:

    just turned 54 – and just lost all stiffies – oh well – I got better things to worry about – I now for the first time am actually sad that I have been alone all my life – too late to do anything about it now – maybe I’ll get a cat

  11. Urology 101:  Much More Than “Pecker Checking”! | Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

    […] part of our practice and can involve the bladder, kidneys, prostate, testicles and epididymis.  Sexual dysfunction is a very common condition that occupies much of the time of the urologist—under this category […]

  12. Jessy Says:

    Wow! I’m close to my 40’s and still have the drive of an 18 year old. Not bragging, I do have one problem. I don’t ejaculate as fast I used to. I get a hard on often have sex every day,crave it often and haven’t experienced a soft erection during sex. In fact I remain hard for along time but can’t come fast. Its becoming a problem since my partners think I’m cheating or not interested in them. I fake orgasms. Honesty it sucks. I guess it’s better than not been able to perform but it really sucks not been able to come . I looked this up to maybe get some advice.

  13. Jane New Says:

    As an escort who specialises in older men, I’d dispute a few of your points, although my evidence is anecdotal rather than statistical.

    I know a lovely gentleman in his 80s who derives a great deal of pleasure from sexual contact. He orgasms despite not longer being able to achieve an erection.

    Another well into his 60s achieved, as he described it, a knee-trembling orgasm but found the experience too powerful and preferred not to go there again.

    I know other men in their 50s who greatly enjoy sexual contact even though the apparatus may not work as well as it used to.

    Male sexuality changes with age, that’s true, but it’s still a great deal of fun and a wonderful bonding experience when with an understanding partner.

  14. lups Says:

    Very informative, what are remedies to the DE. I am approaching 50.

  15. Bobby Says:

    I’m 61 yrs and still have morning wood every morning.I have spontaneous erections throughout the day. I can still go back to back and last a good hour before losing my load. I have sex with my partner 17-18 times a week and can go more if I wanted too. My balls don’t sag they are well fitted solid however one of my balls is much larger than the other hahaha!!! My sexual desires are still a raging fire desire. So i’m not so sure your data is 100% accurate in ever case.

  16. Solly Creatini Says:

    14Oct20: (HEALTH DOC 13).
    It really is disengenuous for the medical community to not inform males and females about the natural male sexual/aging decline.

    Typically it is reported that after the age of 40, decline happens. It is even not too often reported that testosterone “normally” begins it decline by the age of 30. 1 to 1 1/2% per year according to The Mass. Male Aging Study. Also it is not often reported that the age of highest male orgasmic capability is 14 to 16 years (Kinsey). No one informs that as soon as ejaculation begins, male orgasmic frequency capability declines. And what is said about the fact that as soon as male sexual orgasmic maturity is attained, the decline begins.

    Or what about when refractory period is measured at 16, 18, 20 years and then compared to 25 ears of age, it has declined. There is never a mention made of the fact that when the penile erection weight capability (i.e. engorgement) is measured at 18 years then again at 25 and 30 years, it is reduced (i.e. less penile volume).

    There is also a cessation of nocturnal emission capability by mid/late 20s. Where is it ever reported that b the age of 30 years, a male is only half as orgasmically capable as in teenage years (18).? No where, in general reporting on male sexual health/response does it say when , generally speaking, are males/females informed that by the late 20s/earl 30s, males are not capable of multiple orgasms within a certain specific defined period. B age 40, 52% of males are affected by some level / some occurrence / occasional ED. (Mass. Male Aging Study).

    At this age period, most males are only capable of one orgasm in a typical sexual experience. (Masters and Johnson must also be researched in these same general areas.). SO MALE SEXUAL AGING BEGINS AT MATURITY (18 ears approx) NOT AT 40 YEARS. To not inform males and females (and doctors) of this fact and leaving it to only general colloquial expression is a great disservice.

    We have not even discussed at all, the psychological burden / difficulty / weight this places on males when it is discovered or uncovered that they have been misinformed or lied to. SO. MEDICAL PEOPLE PLEASE TELL THE TRUTH. Researcher: Solly. 140ct20.

    • Crispin B Says:

      Thank you. I’m 42 and jus been quizzed by my GP on morning wood frequency. To which I replied “What is that?”. I haven’t been aware of that for a decade and have no underlying health issues.

      • Solly Creatini Says:

        CRISPIN: If you have not had “morning wood” for a decade, that shows a potential problem. What was your testosterone level in your mid 20s? What about at the age of 30? Now? The veins in the penis are small. A penile problem can come before a cardiac problem by several years. You have to know the decline in testosterone over the years. If you do not go to the doctor regularly and get tests done, you simply do not know if you have underlying/developing health issues. By saying no “morning wood” for a decade and you have no underlying health issues shows you are not medically aware. PLEASE BE TESTED. Go to a Male Health Clinic. Crispin. Your answer scares me. 2Nov20.

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